Bridget Jones's Baby

 

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Renée Zellweger’s Bridget Jones is now 43 – and pregnant. But who’s the father?

 

Bridget Jones's Baby

Renée Zellweger: all on her own (again)

   

Like many film titles, Bridget Jones’s Baby is misleading. This is not a film about Bridget Jones’s baby. Bridget Jones, the self-absorbed, self-pitying, accident-prone clod hoisted from Helen Fielding’s newspaper column into cinematic renown by the Texas-born Renée Zellweger, is back. And she’s pregnant. But who’s the father? Colin Firth, having previously ploughed the field of uncertain paternity in Mamma Mia! returns as Mark Darcy and this time is pitted against the charms of an American, Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey). Both are enormously successful men in their chosen careers (Darcy is a human rights lawyer, Qwant an internet billionaire) and both, strangely, find Bridget irresistible. And three months previously they both had “relations” with the scatter-brained mother-to-be.

 

This time our heroine is not only dealing with the challenges of pregnancy, but also with the demands of a surreal new boss (Kate O’Flynn) on the current affairs show she works for, Hard News. And, twelve years on from Beeban Kidron's Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), the paranoid Londoner is now dealing with encroaching middle-age (she’s 43).

 

In the film’s favour, the original director, Sharon Maguire, returns to the fold, while the talented triumvirate of Fielding, Dan Mazer and Emma Thompson all contributed to the screenplay. There are a few genuinely funny moments, most of them featuring Bridget’s sidekick Miranda, played with killer timing by Sarah Solemani. But there are also too many predictable beats, be it Bridget announcing (in voice-over) that, “at least nobody knew it was my birthday…” seconds before her surprise birthday party is revealed, to the bit when she stumbles into a darkened yurt at a music festival (where she first encounters Qwant).

 

It will come as no surprise that Bridget does, eventually, give birth to the titular tot and yet the sequence is a surprisingly muted affair. It sits poorly besides many hysterical childbirth scenes of yore and with three Oscar-winning stars in the obstetric mix (Zellweger, Firth and Emma Thompson), it is a missed opportunity. There’s also a needlessly irritating score from Craig Armstrong, enough cannily placed pop hits to guarantee the release of Now! That’s What I Call Bridget Jones and lashings of slapstick and cliché. We should be grateful, though, that there’s sufficient humour in the film – and the odd surprise – to dispel total disappointment.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, Emma Thompson, Sally Phillips, James Callis, Sarah Solemani, Celia Imrie, Shirley Henderson, Jessica Hynes, Ed Sheeran, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Agni Scott, Joanna Scanlan, Neil Pearson, Patrick Malahide, Kate O'Flynn, Enzo Cilenti, Janet Henfrey, James Faulkner, David Dickinson.

 

Dir Sharon Maguire, Pro Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Debra Hayward, Screenplay Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer and Emma Thompson, Ph Andrew Dunn, Pro Des John Paul Kelly, Ed Melanie Ann Oliver, Music Craig Armstrong, Costumes Steven Noble.

 

StudioCanal/Working Title/Miramax-Universal Pictures.

122 mins. UK/USA/France/Ireland. Rel: 16 September 2016. Cert. 15.